Spazzy Intensity

Behold the extrovert: Front and center and hamming it up. Behold the introvert: Brooding in the background.

Behold the extrovert: Front and center and hamming it up. Behold the introvert: Brooding in the background.

The current dynamic in our house is this: We have one very intense, sometimes melodramatic introvert and one spazzy, in-your-face, wacka-wacka-wacka extrovert. Mr. Intensity can often be found reading or playing in the corner by himself while Mr. Spazzy does his level best to draw Intensity out by peppering him with questions, trying to show him stuff and—if all else fails—being as annoyingly adorable as humanly possible. This often results in Intensity punching or insulting Spazzy and Spazzy (who is also the Town Crier) tattling. We are typically treated to every excruciating detail of Intensity’s misdeeds and usually none of the details related to Spazzy’s part in the fallout. It’s only after a major effort to extract information from tight-lipped Intensity that we are able to piece together something resembling the full story. My hope and dream is that eventually these two will balance each other out. My current experience is that they drive each other to the brink of madness and often bring me and their daddy along for the ride.

A perfect example of this dynamic presented yesterday on the drive home from karate. In the last couple of days, Oscar has been caught sneaking treats. This resulted in the loss of the privilege of dessert. Following the loss of privileges, much dramatic sadness inevitably ensues. I have learned that trying to reason or explain in such moments is futile. If I have any hope of inserting a life lesson, I must bide my time until the emotional storm has passed.

And so it was that in the relative calm of yesterday’s post-karate routine that I decided to say, “Oscar: Do you know why it’s so upsetting to me and Dad when we catch you sneaking and being dishonest…even just a little bit?” Beautiful brooding Oscar set down his book, let out and exasperated sigh and said, “Why?” “Because,” I said, “It won’t be long before you’re out in the world without us and we want to have faith that even when we’re not watching, you’ll do the right and honest thing.” “OK,” he said and resumed reading. After a short silence I asked, “Do you know what defines the kind of person you are?” Again, he set down his book and huffed, “No. What?” “It’s the kind of person you are when nobody’s looking. My dream for you is that—even when nobody’s watching—you’ll choose to do the right and honest thing.”

At about that moment, we arrived at the front of the pet store and I instructed the boys to sit tight while I ran in to purchase some sawdust for the guinea pigs. I returned to the car moments later, to this excited report: “Mom!” Boris said, “Oscar said he can’t relax with you in his life!” Oscar summarily issued his brother a sideways stink-eye. After summoning much strength to push down the bursts of uncontrollable laughter that were bubbling up inside me, I said, “Oscar: I’m not trying to stress you out. I just want you to understand why Daddy and I make the decisions we make. I want you to understand where we’re coming from.” “OK,” he said as he returned to his book.

I have no way of knowing if any of the seeds I am planting will grow or if they will simply blow away in the wind. I can turn the soil, add water, try to coax out the sun. Still since I am growing a completely new and unique species, this is all a bit of an experiment. I may fail to provide the right nourishment, bugs may come to eat my spoils…all I have toiled to produce may die on the vine or fail to sprout in the first place. For now, I am enjoying my time in the garden. I remain hopeful that someday I will taste the sweet fruit of many years’ labor.

The camera doesn't lie. Spazzy Intensity abounds.

The camera doesn’t lie. Spazzy Intensity abounds.